Sunday, October 27, 2013

Here's What I Think

What happens when you have had enough from a friend with whom you completely disagree on most issues?  On Facebook, it's a simple matter of "de-friending" someone.  In reality it doesn't work that way.  Do we want to dismiss friendships because our political leanings differ so widely from people we might otherwise enjoy being around?  It happens.  Most folks just avoid certain subjects or remove themselves from one another's lives gradually.
But it's complicated, isn't it?
Facebook certainly makes some strange bedfellows.  Sometimes they wind up as juxtaposed portraits, agreeing on something they obviously have a different take on, but nevertheless feel strongly enough to state an opinion.

But we all have people in our lives that don't experience the universe as we do.  People who belong to what we might consider the wrong political party, attend the wrong schools, social institutions, or have world views that are undeniably opposed to each other.
The trend these days is to rant and rage about our polarization.  The trick to keeping a variety of friends is to do the opposite.  State your case, make the points you need to make without disrespecting the other's view point no matter how ludicrous it might seem.  I always try to ask myself when dealing with a religious fanatic, a paranoid personality, or someone I deem ignorant of history, what are this person's core values.  Am I talking to a decent human being here?  Is this person inherently evil?  Might we find some common ground somewhere?
My horse friends don't exactly share the values of my writer friends.  My education colleagues are rarely religious fanatics.  I'm still looking for a compatible fly fisherman and probably will the rest of my days.
I had a student once who sat in the back of the classroom.  Since it was a horseshoe formation it was only three deep but nevertheless behind others.  He liked to participate in class discussions and the class came to value his insights.  But it was how he participated rather than what he said that is so memorable.  Kelly had the voice of an orator.  Yet he seldom spoke loudly.  After considerable discussion he'd slowly raise his hand.  After being recognized, he'd say something like, "well this certainly is an interesting discussion.  Here's what I think..."  He was forthcoming about who or what he agreed with and who or what he found not so much to his liking.  His demeanor created an atmosphere that made sure he was heard.
Isn't that what matters most if we are to make any progress with anything?  

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